[Pages 169-171 - Hebrew]
by Klara Spector
Translated by Sara Mages
After Tłuste was captured by the Russians, all the estate owners in the area were forced to leave their homes and their property, and move somewhere else. One of the estates was owned by a Jew named Merdinger. When Merdinger was forced to leave his estate, with his wife and his two children, they moved to the home of his friend Oskar (Yehoshua) Schechner in Tłuste.
About a year later, the Russians retreated and the town was captured by the Germans. Some time later, the Germans started to liquidate the town's Jews. Three families, Merdinger, Schechner and Spector built themselves a wellconcealed bunker in Schechner's home that was large enough to accommodate thirty people. They hid there during the first two Aktzyot, but the danger that the bunker would be discovered was great. Then the three families discovered a possibility of rescue from a place that they did not expect at all.
A horse groom named Linkiewicz worked on the Merdinger estate in Hinkovtza [Hińkowce]. He was a fool and a drunk, and had a very bad name in the whole area. He did not have any friends and no one wanted to associate with him or be in his company. Everyone knew that he was bad and feared him. His wife was drafted to work by the Germans and sent to Germany. A young educated goodlooking woman ran his household, and he also lived with her. He had two children a seventeenyearold boy and an eightyearold girl [actually, fifteenyearold ed.]. His house stood at the edge of the village, far from the rest of the homes and near a big sand hill. The hill was narrow and was about a halfkilometer long. The sand was of good quality and was used in the manufacture of glass or porcelain. In the years before the war, the sand was mined and sent to glass factories. As a result of the mining, a maze of dark corridors and nooks was created in the middle of the mountain, and a man could wander and lose his way there.
One day, during the Nazi occupation, Linkiewicz came to Merdinger with this offer: he would be willing to conceal him and hide him so well that even the devil would not be able to discover him. Merdinger knew the man and knew his character; and for that reason he was not willing to listen to him and to accept his offer. But his friend Schechner spoke to his heart and was able to convince him that a man of that kind could be trusted, because he was known as a drunk and a fool, and no one would suspect that he was hiding Jews. At the end of the matter they came to an agreement, and a letter of agreement was written. In it, Merdinger and Schechner promised to support Linkiewicz and his family all the days of their lives. And more than that Merdinger promised to give him half of the value of the Hinkovtza [Hińkowce] estate. In addition all the property that Merdinger and Schechner would take to their hideout would be transferred to Linkevitz at the end of the war. The property owners promised to leave their shelter dressed in the same clothes that they entered it.
After the agreement was signed, Linkiewicz started with the preparations. Gradually he transferred to the hiding place household items, kitchenware and bedding; and, after everything was prepared, he started to transfer the people, one by one or two together, out of fear of an evileye. And so he transferred and hid twelve people.
Klara Spector (the sister of Yehoshua Schechner) and her husband Mordechai Spector, the Hebrew teacher, were not included in this group. Merdinger was afraid to increase the number of people and he refused to include them. After the two families left for their hideout, Spector and his wife were afraid to stay in town and the two of them moved to Rozanowka [Różanówka]. Spector worked there in the field and Klara worked as a cook. Later on, they moved from Rozanowka to Holovtshintzh [Hołowcyńce] where a Jewish labor camp was still in existence.
A Christian woman lived in Holovtshintzh, and she knew very well Yehoshua Schechner, who had been rewarded to hide together with the Merdinger family. This woman was also in touch with Linkiewicz. With the help of this woman, Klara transferred a pleading letter to her brother, asking him to seek permission from Merdinger to let his sister and her husband hide with them. Linkiewicz' mistress brought the answer to this letter and informed them that Merdinger did not agree to add two people, only one Klara. When Klara informed her husband that she would not agree to leave him and go alone to the shelter, he broke into tears and begged her to go alone so both of them would not be lost. But if she would move to the shelter, maybe she would be able to influence them to let him join. As a result, she called off her objection and Linkiewicz' mistress delivered a peasant woman outfit to her. Dressed in this costume, and with a sack on her shoulder, she walked from Holovtshintzh to Hinkovtza. Linkiewicz' mistress led the way and she walked some distance from her. It was harvest season and the presence of a strange woman carrying a sack on her shoulder did not arouse any special attention.
In this manner she walked the whole way and no one stopped her. Two weeks after the arrival of Klara Spector, Merdinger agreed to add her husband Mordechai Spector. He was transferred at the bottom of a wagon loaded with sheaves The two of them had to agree that they would be satisfied with the food ration that their relatives would set aside for them Schechner, his son, and Schechner's sister, Hinda, who was also not included in the first group. Merdinger was afraid that he might not have enough food…
The woman from Holovtshintzh who had negotiated the Spectors' matter was also involved in this conspiracy and Oskar Schechner fully trusted her. Her duty was to organize the supplies, meaning obtaining enough food for fourteen people in hiding and for the four members of the Linkiewicz family. She bought and brought large quantities of food and while doing so she had to make sure that no one was suspecting her and following her. She did not know where we were hiding because this matter was also concealed from her.
Linkiewicz' mistress baked bread and cooked for everyone, and Linkiewicz himself brought the food in buckets at two o'clock in the morning. His seventeenyearold son walked after him with a bucket of water in his hand. The bucket was heavy and the teenage boy was skinny. In the light of the lamp, Klara Spector saw that the boy was sweating and breathing heavily. Linkiewicz camouflaged the entrance to the cave with rocks which were covered with sand. Each time he came he had to clear the entrance to the cave with a hoe, and the cave dwellers also helped to clear the entrance from the inside. Because of all these difficulties he came only once a day, during night hours. Each time he heard a suspicious sound, he hurried to hide behind one of the bushes. Because of that, the people in hiding also had to change their daily routine they slept during the day and were awake during the night. They slept from six in the morning until six in the evening, and from seven in the evening to the morning they ate, talked, quarreled and sometimes they even sang….
Also the prayers were said in accordance to the law and custom. They knew when Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur occurred, and fasted on that day. They also had prayer books Linkiewicz brought them the same way he brought their clothes and belongings. The cave where they lived was narrow and long. Linkiewicz built wide benches along the walls and they were used as beds and a place to sit. As they sat on the soft bedding, the women were busy knitting or darning socks and singing at the same time, and the men joined them. They sang in Russian or in Yiddish and so the time passed.
The women lived in peace, but they did not prevent themselves from the pleasure of gossiping about each other. On the other hand, the men interrupted each other and were angry for every small or big issue. Once, Merdinger attacked Schechner and wanted to kill him, despite the fact that he was his best friend. Despite all the friendship that he felt towards him, he guarded the distribution of the food very carefully. He insisted that Klara and her husband Mordechai be fed only from their relatives' rations those of her brother, his son Gabriel and her sister Hinda, the way it was agreed…..
Oskar Schechner wrote a diary. He sat and wrote in the light of a candle Linkiewicz also supplied candles. During the first days, he also brought us newspapers every Thursday. But later on he stopped bringing them since people started to suspect him and wondered since when Linkiewicz had become a member of the newspaper readers?
The temperature in the cave was the same in the summer and in the winter. There was no shortage of air and that influenced the health of the people. During all the days of their stay in the cave none of them became sick, not even the children. But there was never enough food, and Linkiewicz' wife had done all that she could and cooked buckets full of food. They always cared to leave a supply of food for times of trouble maybe Linkiewicz would get drunk and would not come, or maybe he would be afraid to come because of the evil eye…
There was always a shortage of water. The single bucket that Linkiewicz' son brought was used for drinking, washing dishes and at times for a small bath. One day Gabriel, Schechner's son, grew tired of sitting and doing nothing, and he went for a walk in the long corridors. An hour later he returned from his tour and told with a great enthusiasm that he had found water a small pool of water covered with scum but none of us believed his story. A few days later one of the children fainted and there was not a drop of water in the bucket to revive him. Then they remembered the water pool that Gabriel had found, and they asked him to lead the way to the pool. And indeed, they found the pool. The water filtered into it in a secret way. It dropped from the walls and was collected in the pool. When spring arrived and the snow and ice melted, the stream of water increased. Two barrels were brought and they always stood full of clear water that was even good for drinking. Since then we did not know a shortage of water, and Linkiewicz' son stopped to accompany his father in his nightly trips.
A short time later, Linkiewicz' son became ill with typhus. The cave dwellers had a new worry. They were afraid that if the son died, Linkiewicz would desert them from sorrow and trouble, and wouldn't bring them their food ration. Therefore they gave him a large sum of money to call a doctor to heal his son. And indeed, the son recovered and when he came for the first time after his illness, everyone hugged and kissed him….
During Christmas they felt that the food ration that was brought to them was smaller than usual. They did not dare to ask Linkiewicz for the reason in order not to hurt him. In the end, Merdinger, who had provided his income for many years, approached him and asked him the reason in the most delicate way. The response that he received froze the blood in our veins. Linkiewicz told him that one night when he approached the cave he had heard a light sound coming from one of the hills. He put down his buckets and went to see the source of the sound. And there, in one of the caves, he discovered a Jewish family from Hinkovtza. The father came out at night to ask one of his farmers' friends for food. At first, they gave him some, but lately they had refused. The family was starving and he asked him for a little food. He was not able to refuse them and that was the reason for the shortage of food….
Everyone was deeply moved by the sound of his story. Everyone knew that family. They gave Linkiewicz additional money so he would be able to supply food for that family, but the matter did not last long. The village children discovered the Jews in that cave and brought the Germans to it. The Germans did not dare to enter the cave, so they brought bundles of straw and started a fire at the entrance to the cave, in order to suffocate the Jews or force them to come out. To the family's fortune, there were many openings to the cave, and they were able to escape though one of them.
Before Christmas they gave Linkiewicz a lot of money so he would be able to prepare a lot of food for the holiday. On holiday eve, after midnight, Linkiewicz came, as he did each night, but this time he did not come alone. He brought his mistress with him and she carried a bucket full of food. They also brought two baskets full of cakes, beer and brandy. They came to the cave to sit with us and celebrate the holiday eve with us.
Linkiewicz' wife was warmly welcomed by us. Most of the cave residents did not know her or had not seen her before, but they knew that they owed her a lot for her kind heart. The table was set immediately and everyone sat down to eat and drink and enjoy himself. The party lasted for many hours. Linkiewicz' wife received many expensive gifts: a gold bracelet from Klara Spector, a gold coin from Yehoshua Schechner, and a ring from his sister Hinda. Mrs. Merdinger gave her an expensive fur. The woman also told us that two days before the holiday she had visited a priest in Zaleszczyki and confided in him that she was hiding and feeding fourteen Jewish souls. She also gave him money to pray for their well being. The priest told her to take a good care of the Jews… and if Gd willing, they might convert and enter the Christian faith….
Then Yehoshua Schechner got up and announced that it would never happen. They entered the cave as Jews and they would leave it as Jews. Mrs. Linkiewicz, who knew Yehoshua Schechner and liked him, said: and I thought that you would be the first one! You are completely wrong, he answered her, I was born a Jew and I will die a Jew! The woman laughed, she was a wise woman and she was not angry about his words to her.
Everyone was surprised that she had the courage to reveal to a priest the secret of hiding Jews, but she calmed them down and told them that the priest had been hiding Zaleszczyki's Rabbi in his home, disguised as a priest. The Rabbi was an enlightened man and, when guests arrived to the priest's home, he sat with them as though he was one of them.
Yasyo the cat also walked between our legs and jumped on the knees of one of us. It was the fifteenth soul in the cave. Linkevitz brought it to the cave to chase the mice that bothered the people's rest.
At the end of March 1944, Linkiewicz brought the news that the Germans had started to retreat. We did not have any newspapers and therefore we were forced to rely on the news that Linkiewicz brought us. But he guarded his mouth and did not say much.
One night Linkiewicz came with his wife, and this time they brought a lot of food. When she saw us wondering and marveling, she asked us not to ask anything, just eat and enjoy yourselves. Everyone understood from her words and her behavior that something had happened….
When they finished eating Linkiewicz' wife said calmly: Thank Gd, you are free!
Everyone started to kiss her from happiness and appreciation. They sang and kissed each other. At that time the Russians were already in the village. Everyone wanted to get out of the cave immediately, but Linkiewicz' wife did not allow them all to leave. According to her advice only half of the people left, and the second half left on the second day.
And this is how Klara Spector was saved from death, she and her husband with her. According to the agreement with Linkiewicz, she left her hideout wearing the same shabby dress that she arrived in. Daylight blinded her after living for a long period of time in permanent darkness. First, they went to Tłuste but they were not able to find their home. It had been destroyed by the local farmers, just as the rest of the Jewishowned houses had been destroyed in town. Somehow they found shelter in a shabby hut and lived there.
The Spector couple decided not to stay in the ruins of Tłuste, but to move west together with the Russian army. On their way to the city of Tarnopol they stopped in Kopitshintza [Kopyczyńce] where Linkiewicz found them. He told them about a tragedy that had happened to his family as the result of the rescue mission that he was involved in. During his absence, the Banderovtzim came to his home and murdered his son. They pulled his eyes out and threw him in the well since he had supplied drinking water from it to the Jews. His wife hid under a bed in a neighbor's house, but she was discovered and shot to death.
From Tarnopol, the Spector couple continued to follow the Russians to the city of Risha. On 10 May they arrived to the city of Čechy in Czechoslovakia. From there they moved to the British sector in the city of Linz. Mordechai Spector was arrested there for entering with forged documents and, after he was released from prison, he found it right to change his name and his surname. The name that he chose for himself was Avraham Guttmann.
In 1949 the couple arrived in Israel. SpectorGuttmann found work as a cultural lecturer in Holon, but he passed away eight months after his arrival in the country.
[Pages 172-173 - Hebrew]
by Yitzchak Schwartz
Translated by Sara Mages
The third aktzya was held in Buchach [Buczacz] in February 1943, and the fourth aktzya was held in April 1943. At the beginning of May 1943, the Germans announced that the town must be Judenrein. Therefore all Jews who remained alive had to move to Tłuste, Kopyczyńce or Chortkov [Czortków]. Our family moved to Tłuste. On the day of our arrival Jews were abducted for work in labor camps on farms near the town. Two days later the great aktzya was held in Tłuste. In the house where we were was an attic hideout, inside a smoke chimney. Thirty building residents gathered there, including my two sisters. My parents and I didn't have the time to enter that hideout but, at the last moment, just before the murderers broke into the building, we went down to the cellar and covered the entrance with a down comforter. In the end, the murderers discovered the hideout in the attic and took all the people out of it, but they didn't find us. One thousand six hundred people found their death in that aktzya. At first, they gathered all the people in the square next to the church and from there they led them to the cemetery in groups of one hundred people. The Ukrainian policeman, Schab, asked the Germans to let him shoot the Jews and his request was granted. And so, he killed hundreds of Jews with his own hands. The two big pits in which the murdered were buried were covered with soil, but the blood flowed out of them nonstop. Then, a delegation of municipal engineers visited the place and, according to their instructions, the pits were covered with an additional layer of soil and a layer of lime was placed on top of it.
On Sunday, 6 June 1943, people were abducted in the town for work at the KoziaGora farm. I was also abducted for work, but in the afternoon I managed to escape from there with another boy. When we arrived close to the train station we saw a large number of Germans and Ukrainian policemen traveling and getting closer to the town. Before long, shots were heard from the town. It was the first time that the Germans held an aktzya on a Sunday, the day of rest. The town was completely surrounded by Germans and policemen. About fifteen people were able to break through the blockade and escape from the town. The policeman who stood on guard shot at us, but I wasn't hit. On the way, we met many farmers who hurried to the town to participate in the looting. One farmer recognized that we were Jews and wanted to bring us back to the town. Meanwhile, other farmers arrived and we started to beg them to let us go. They demanded money from us in exchange. I had 100 Zehovim with me and my friend had 150 Zehovim, but the farmers demanded more. In the end, they let us go. We ran to Czerwonogrod forest, a distance of 14 kilometers from Tłuste, and stayed there for a day and a night. The local farmers found out that many Jews were hiding in the forest and came to the forest armed with axes to rob and kill the escapees. I heard the shouts of the Jews who fell in the hands of the farmers, and each one of us escaped for his life. I ran barefoot into nettle bushes and was burnt all over my body. In the end, I reached the other side of the forest, but during my escape I separated from my friend and never saw him again. On the other side of the forest I met seven Jews. In the afternoon of the next day we returned to the town. To my great joy, I found my parents were alive. They were able to hide in the cellar, in the same place where they survived the first aktzya.
After these frequent aktzyot, everyone understood that the Germans intended to completely eliminate all the Jews. The only way to stay alive, even for a short time until the end of the harvest season, was given to those who were able to join one of the labor camps on the farms around the town. Our family decided to join a group of 40 Jews who hired seven wagons and tried to reach the experts labor camp in the town of Buczacz. Half way, in one of the villages, we encountered a German punishment delegation. They came to punish the farmers for the murder of two Gestapo men who were found dead in the village. According to rumor, they were going to kill every tenth farmer in the village. When we saw the Germans, we escaped to the nearby forest. Eleven people from our group were shot and killed by the Germans and the rest were forced to walk to Buczacz. After we deserted the wagons their owners returned to Tłuste and took with them all of our belongings.
Before we entered Buczacz my father and another Jew were sent to the town to learn what was happening there. They entered a locksmith named Haber, whose apartment was on the outskirts of town, to hear from him what was happening in the experts camp. He wondered why Jews were coming from Tłuste to Buczacz when, at the same time, the experts escaped from Buczacz to Tłuste. He said that according to a rumor the Germans were planning to liquidate the experts' camp in two or three days. Again, we returned to Tłuste with a number of people from the group. There, it became known to us that on the same day (12 June 1943), all the Jews were taken from Tłuste and sent to Chortkov, and the town was declared Judenrein.
We decided to return to Buczacz for the second time. When we arrived to the experts' camp everyone was packing his belongings to move to the labor camp in Swydova [Swidowa]. We didn't have another choice and joined them. The conditions in the camp in Swydova were very difficult. The work was difficult and the supervisors abused us every step that we made. The food ration was very small and the farmers weren't allowed to sell us food. On 23 June 1943, at 2 o'clock at night, the camp was surrounded by the farmers and by the policemen, who started an aktzya.. Seven Jews committed suicide by swallowing poison. Many tried to hide inside the pits. Those pits were used to store potatoes in the winter, but in the summer they were empty and full of garbage. Our family also entered one of the pits together with other Jews, but the murderers took them out and led them to the gathering location where the Jews were waiting to be shot. My mother hid me at the bottom of the pit and covered me well with leaves and garbage. The murderers searched the garbage with their daggers to discover the Jews who were hiding there but, to my luck, they didn't find me.
After the aktzya I met a Jew who managed to escape from the gathering area and learnt from him a few details about the execution of the aktzya. He told me that before the aktzya, a number of Gestapo men arrived with suitcases to collect the Jews' money, but the Jews opted to rip up the paper money so it wouldn't fall into German hands. For that they received severe beatings from the Gestapo. From my hiding place I heard the sound of the cantor praying El Male Rachamim [Gd is Full of Mercy]. Some Jews said a Viddui [confession] and a young woman started to sing L'Internationale and other songs. Later, I found out that this young woman lost her mind during her stay in the camp. In Swydova camp was a member of the Bund movement from Tłumacz, a strong daring young man. His friend tried to encourage him to rebel, but he wasn't moved and didn't move. It was inadvisable to resist, he said, when there was no chance to win. The matter could only bring us difficult torture. Before the execution they were forced to undress, and a weapon was found in this man's clothes and in the clothes of another Jew. The Nazis separated them from the other Jews, tortured them with great cruelty and, in the end, hung them from a tree. The aktzya lasted all day, and the farmers kept on bringing additional Jews that they found in different hideouts.
The night after the aktzya, I came out of my hiding place and escaped. For three days I wandered in the villages and in the forests and met five Jews who also managed to survive the aktzyot in other camps in the area. We decided to turn to the farm in the village of Mochabka [Muchawka] because it seemed to us that the farmers in that village were calmer and more decent. Within two weeks, about thirty Jews were absorbed on the same farm. Two weeks later the Ukrainian police came and killed all of them. I survived thanks to the fact that I was in Swydova on that day. One hundred Jews from Chortkov, who belonged to the experts group, were brought to Swydova camp which was emptied from its inhabitants. I remained in Swydova and worked in each job in the fields. For a short period of time I also worked in the vodka distillery.
For six months, from July to December 1943, the number of Jews in Swydova camp decreased, and only 20 out of the 100 experts who were brought there remained. Many escaped to the forests and fell in the hands of the Banderovtzim and many died in the typhus epidemic that raged in the camp. A number of us dug a bunker in the forest and hid in it. Fifteen people, myself included, found an abandoned house in the forest and moved there. A week later, I went to a nearby village to search for work. On the same day the farmers attacked the residents of the house and killed all of them. I was saved only due to the fact that I wasn't there at that time.
I walked from farm to farm to look for work, and only on the third farm the manager agreed to give me a job. Fourteen young men and women worked there almost legally. Ten days later, the manager warned us of an approaching attack. We didn't go to bed that night, but we entered the hayloft and hid inside a pile of straw. At midnight the Banderovtzim came and took three pairs of horses, nine pigs and grain from the farm. Before they left they asked the farm watchman if there were any Jews there, and he pointed to the hayloft. They took us out of the hayloft and started to demand money and jewelry from us while shooting in the air to frighten us. We had nothing in our hands to give them, and they were planning to carry out their threats and shot us. At the last moment, a group of Germans arrived from the village of Chipowtza [Szypowce] and started to shoot at the Banderovtzim. A battle broke between them and we managed to escape during the commotion.
After we were saved from this attack, we turned to another farm where a German unit was situated. Since we were safer there from an attack by the Banderovtzim, we worked on that farm the entire month of February 1944. We found out that the Ukrainians were plotting to kill all the Jews to the last of them, so they wouldn't testify about their crimes during the Nazi occupation. We stopped sleeping in the barrack and scattered among the farmers' yards. I slept in the hut together with an elderly man and his sick son. One night, I left the barrack around eleven and went to sleep in the barn. On the same night the Banderovtzim attacked the barrack and killed a sick boy. His father escaped in the direction of the barn where I was hiding, but a bullet hit him near the barn and he fell. For a long hour, I heard his cries before he died. On the same night all the Jews who were sleeping in the farmers' yards were murdered, around twentyfive of them. Only three were able to escape for their lives.
We escaped to the farm in Lisovtza [Lisowce] where around fifty Jews gathered. During the Germans' retreat, a unit of Vlasov's men came to the area. They attacked the few Jews and murdered eleven of them in various cruel ways. The remaining Jews escaped to the farm in Tłuste where the German manager, Patti [Vathje], protected the surviving Jews from Ukrainian rioters. Around three hundred Jews who survived until the arrival of the Soviet army gathered there. More than a hundred of them were killed during the Germans' air attack on the farm a short time before the entrance of the Soviet army.
[Pages 174-175 - Hebrew]
by Shmuel Eisen
Translated by Sara Mages
I was born in Tłuste in 1932. My father was Meir Eisen and my mother's name was Feiga from the Asing [Hessing] family. My father had a shoe store. I studied at the primary school and managed to finish the fourth grade by the outbreak of the war. When the Soviets entered they put me back in the fourth grade. My father had to liquidate his shoe store and he became a manager in the shoemakers union in our town. Our situation was relatively good. There were various rumors about the Germans' atrocities in the occupied territory, but no one wanted to believe them. For that reason no one thought of escaping when the war between Soviet Russia and Germany broke out.
There were several thousand Jews in Tłuste, but their number increased during the war. Jews came to our town from the entire area. The first Jews came from Hungary. They were deported from there and brought to us together with the Hungarian army. Most of them were wealthy Jews who brought with them some of their assets. Many were robbed later on by the Ukrainians. There were also those who tried to return to Hungary, but they were chased to the Dniester River and drowned.
In Tłuste we went through three aktzyot. During the first aktzya our family hid in a field. My father and my mother were still alive and I also had two brothers: Yakov, who was born in 1935 and survived the Holocaust, and a little brother who was born during the war. In the first aktzya, about three hundred Jews were sent somewhere. In the second aktzya about one hundred people were shot in the place and one thousand people were sent by train to Belzec. Among them were also my mother and my little brother. I don't know from where people knew that people were burnt with electricity in Belzec. The third aktzya in Tłuste was carried out by the Gestapo. About three thousand five hundred people were murdered then. They were brought to the cemetery, forced to get on a board that was laid across the burial pit, and the men of the Gestapo shot and killed them. The members of the Jewish militia were forced to help the Germans, and they were the ones who told us later how the masses of Jews were murdered. They were also forced to go down the pits and move the bodies closer together. There have been cases in which the Germans threw live children into the pit. Two girls managed to escape from the pit and returned to town, but they were like crazy and didn't say anything. The victims' clothes were placed in special warehouses and later shipped to Germany.
The few Jews who remained after this aktzya, several hundred in total, were sent to work on a farm that was about two kilometers from Tłuste. My father also went there together with me and my brother. We lived in barracks and worked on difficult labor. There were no policemen on the farm, and no one watched over us. However, there was a Ukrainian police force in the village and in the town, and every Jew they met outside the farm was immediately killed on the spot. The farm manager was a Pole. He didn't bother us, but every day we had to give him fifty Zlotys for each Jew who was on the farm. That amount was paid for the food that was given to us, but in reality we were only given some bread and soup. The rest we were forced to buy from the farmers in the village. Not everyone had money, but the wealthy among us helped the poor and paid their fees to the farm manager.
We lived on that farm for six weeks. After six weeks, rumors began to spread that an aktzya would be held very soon. We placed guards around the camp to warn us ahead of time. I stood on guard on the night that the police came. It was a beautiful summer night and the sound of frogs croaking was coming from a nearby lake. The air was warm and I forgot the duty that was given to me and started to think pleasant thoughts. Suddenly I heard the sound of singing and immediately realized that it wasn't the voice of the village farmers. It was the sound of the Ukrainian policemen. I started to shout loudly to wake everyone up, but I was too late because the policemen were riding their horses, and a few minutes later they were inside the farm. People jumped undressed from the windows and started to run wherever their legs carried them. The policemen shot at them from automatic rifles and machineguns and, with the help of their horses, they gathered the people in one place. I don't know how many people were able to escape but probably not many of them because I saw many bodies on the next day. My father my brother and I started to run towards the fields. My father was hit and fell, and only my brother and I were able to run and hide. It was around three o'clock in the morning.
We were able to sneak into the town, to a Polish friend by the name of Hrabowiecki. He was an old religious Pole and he hid us in his attic all day and night.
We returned to the farm early the next morning. We didn't have any money, only a gold watch, as our father kept all our money. We found our father lying dead in the field together with the rest of the murdered. He was naked as the day he was born and everything was taken from him. The farm manager allowed us to bury our father and gave us shovels. My brother and I buried him naked because we didn't have any clothes to dress him with. I remember his burial place well, and I will always be able to find it.
After we buried our father, we went to the forest. We didn't have any money, but many Poles lived in that village and everyone knew us and treated us well. They were afraid to hide us in their homes but never refused to give us food. We slept in the forest and at night, when it was quiet in the village, I left my little brother and went to bring bread. Every day I went to another farmer and in this manner they fed us for many months.
We learnt from the locals that gangs, dressed in Soviet uniforms, were located in Czerwonogrod forest, a distance of fifteen kilometers. They were searching for Germans and took revenge on them. They also looted the Ukrainians in the villages and took everything they could carry. We knew that they were Soviet partisans and I wanted very much to reach them. We weren't able to remain in the forest for much longer because of the approaching winter. Therefore, we started to move in that direction and the farmers showed me the way to find them.
When we arrived at the partisans' camp, I left my brother behind and approached the camp. One of the soldiers shouted towards me: Stop! Who is coming? I raised my hands and told him that I was a Jew who escaped from the aktzya. The soldier approached me and asked me who came with me. Then he asked one of his friends to go with me and bring my brother. My brother was a young boy, around the age of eight. They advised me to take my brother to a residential area and place him with a reliable person, and then I would be able to return and join their squadron. We agreed that when I came back I would introduce myself with the password Hersh the Jew. I returned with my brother to Tłuste and went to Ignatz Vishnievski [Wyszyński]. I gave him the gold watch that I had in my hand and told him the location where our family buried their valuables. I promised to give him everything if he would hide my brother until the end of the war. He promised to do so and fulfilled his promise. At the end of the war we dug out the treasure from its hiding place, and gave him everything. Indeed, we were poor and empty and had nothing in our hands, but he kept his promise and I also wanted to keep mine.
I left my brother in Vishnievski's hands and returned to the forest. The partisans gave me a uniform and everything else that I needed. It was a large group. I don't know how many people were there, but there were many infantries and cavalries, and even tanks and cannons. There was also a unit with trained dogs, and each soldier in that unit had a wolf dog. The dogs were able to tell from the footprints if a stranger was in the area. In that case they didn't bark, but pulled the soldier's pants to the location where the stranger was. The camp was surrounded with dugouts and there were also underground bunkers.
I stayed with the partisans for a full year. Day after day they trained me to ride and shoot. I had to hold the reins in my mouth so my hands would be free to load the automatic rifle. It was difficult to learn this art, but I was able to overcome all the difficulties until I was one of them. They took me everywhere. We came to the villages at night and sometimes during the day. At night, only the infantries and the horsemen went, and during the day they were escorted by tanks. We went without any fear when we learnt that the Ukrainian police was present in a village. We went and caught them, and later hung them on the trees in the forest. The Germans never approached the forests.
Once, we came across Germans who came to the village of Nyrkov [Nyrkêw] to collect the quota of wheat from the farmers. Our vanguard squadron informed us immediately that the Germans were in the village. Silently we surrounded the village and killed many of them. It was a real battle. I also rode my horse and shot at the Germans with the automatic rifle that I held in my hand. They weren't policemen, but men of the Wehrmacht. A few officers were able to escape, many were shot and killed and about one hundred and fifty fell captive. We didn't hurt them. We only took their uniforms and gave them civilian clothes with a special prisoner stamp. They worked for us all the time and their condition was good. They received the same food that we got, and nobody bothered them. We always had plenty of food. We ate meat everyday and always had brandy in several big barrels. I didn't drink, but washed my body with brandy.
At times, Soviets airplanes arrived and supplied us with weapons, ammunition and canned goods. At times they also brought orders and instructions. When we heard the buzzing of the airplanes at night, we immediately knew if it was one of ours. Then, we shot a colored rocket to indicate the location of our camp.
When the front got closer to our area, we received an order to inform the Germans that if they looted and sabotaged during their retreat, they would receive the same treatment when we would arrive to a German territory. The matter didn't help much because the Germans always looted. When we found out that the Soviets entered Tłuste, we came out to welcome them. I was the youngest partisan so I was given the red flag and rode in front between two officers. I also had partisan documents but I had to return them together with my weapon. When I separated from them, they were ready to let me stay in the army, but I didn't want to continue to live the life of a warrior. I also could not ignore my brother whom I had left with Mr. Vishnievski, and I also did not want to leave him alone for an additional period of time.
We are now in Krakow together with a Jew from Romania who took care of us and helped us. I want to travel to Israel and work there, and if it will be necessary, to fight at least I will know what I am fighting for.
[Page 175 - Hebrew]
by Berta Doller
Translated by Sara Mages
Our family escaped to the forest before the first aktzya. We returned after the aktzya and since then we didn't know rest. German cars appeared from time to time and took dozens of Jews with them. We knew they didn't take them to work, but for abuse and extermination.
My mother also perished in the great aktzya. My mother hid in a bunker in our house, but this house was chosen as a station for the collection of the property of those executed. At first, a German entered, conducted a search and took a woman and her child from the hiding place. With that the search had to end. But the policeman, Schab, wasn't satisfied with that. He claimed that many more Jews were hiding in that house. After an additional search he took my mother and three others out of the hiding place. A Ukrainian, one of our acquaintances, told us that my mother begged for her life, cried and begged to let her live, taking into account her young children, but the murderer didn't let her go and dragged her to the concentration place of those being led to the slaughter.
During the next aktzya I was in the labor camp near Tłuste together with my father; my sister remained in Tłuste.
The aktzya was held on 6 June 1943, and after this date the town had to remain Judenrein. My sister escaped together with an eightyearold boy, who was our relative, and other Jews in the direction of the village of Rozanowka [Różanówka]. Schab and his policemen friends shot after them with a machinegun. Many fell on the way including the boy whom she led. My sister was in shock for several days; later she came to the farm and stayed with us.
My father contracted typhus and my sister contracted it from him. The policeman, Dobianko [Dubiczenko], arrived together with the commander of the Ukrainian police, took out a number of patients from the adjacent barrack, and shot them. I managed to hide my sister under the bed, but I wasn't able to take my father out his bed. Dobianko ordered me to take my father out. I refused to do so. Then, Dobianko took my father out and aimed his gun at him several times, but each time I managed to dissuade him from shooting my father. The last time I grabbed the gun from his hand and promised him three thousand Zlotys if he would let my father go. Dobianko and Schab agreed to take the money from a farmer who was keeping it for us. Out of fear, my father lost his ability to talk, and it didn't return to him until his death. He passed away a few days later. On the same day the murderers killed 51 Jews. On the next day they also came to take me, but I managed to hide together with my sister in a pile of straw.
After the death of my father I escaped with my sister from Rozanowka to Tłuste. There were no Germans in the villages, but our lives were threatened by Ukrainians who attacked and killed Jews with knives and other slaughtering tools. I saw how Berel Eringer was mortally wounded in his abdomen and suffered from severe pain. The Jews asked the Ukrainian militia to shoot him and end his suffering, but their answer to that was: it's a waste of bullets. He died after several hours of difficult torture.
We worked on the farm in Tłuste until March 1944, until liberation. A few hours before the arrival of the Soviets, Schab came with several members of the Ukrainian militia and demanded the Jews to give them four liters of brandy within fifteen minutes. Otherwise, they would murder them all. We approached the commander of the German company, which camped in the area, and asked for his help. He drove the policemen away and saved our lives. The Soviet advance force arrived to the area in the afternoon.
The Soviets were forced to retreat ten days after their arrival. I escaped with my sister and all the surviving Jews to Chortkov [Czortków] and from there to Kopachintsy [Kopyczyńce], and Podvolotchisk [Podwołoczyska]. We ate the little food that was given to us by the Soviets and the rest we obtained from the farmers.
In May 1944, our area was finally liberated from the German occupation, and then we returned to Tłuste.
[Page 176 - Hebrew]
by Moshe Schulman
Translated by Sara Mages
The Germans arrived in our town at the beginning of July 1941. The Gestapo headquarters was located in Chortkov [Czortków] and from there they came to us to establish a Judenrat. At first, the Judenrat included the bank manager, Yakov Pel, Akiva Langholz, Leon Krasutski, Yisrael Krampf, and others. They were given the duty to collect all the valuables from the Jews and hand them to the Germans, and they also had to supply Jewish workers for various jobs. They remained in their duty for only a short period of time. When they realized that they were forced to send their brothers to death, they gave up this honor and resigned. Others came in their place and fulfilled the Gestapo and the Ukrainian police orders without remorse. In October 1941, they abducted my son, Yoel [Joel], and sent him to the laborcamp in Kamionka. He was released from there only thanks to his young age, but suffered a lot before his release. At work, the Jews were beaten with murderous blows and a number of them were also murdered.
My son and I somehow managed to find agricultural work. We weren't used to this work, but we managed to hold on. Bad days arrived when the abductions and the aktzyot began. The first aktzya was held in July 1942. By order of the Gestapo, the Judenrat collected about three hundred old and crippled Jews who were transferred somewhere by train. Before the war there were about two thousand five hundred Jews in our town. During the war their number increased to about eight thousand because the remaining Jews from the towns in the area escaped to our town or were sent by the Gestapo to Tłuste, to the last ghetto that remained in the entire area. There were also a few hundred Jews from Hungary in our town who were deported from there and remained in Tłuste.
The great aktzya, in which most of the Jews of Tłuste and the entire area perished, was held in the month of May 1943. Gestapo men and Ukrainian policemen suddenly attacked the town and removed people from their homes to the execution site. Many were shot and killed in their homes. The work of murder was easy for them because the Jews lived in a small area, in a few streets. There was an excellent bunker in my building. Thirty people hid there and survived. More than three thousand Jews were killed in that aktzya.
A few days later, on 6 June 1943, the last aktzya was held in the town. The Germans killed close to one thousand five hundred Jews, almost to the last one left in the town. After that Tłuste was declared Judenrein. The very few who survived were given the opportunity to move to the farm in Lisowtza [Lisowce] and work there in agriculture. I also went there with my wife and three sons. They took my oldest son on the way and only by miracle I managed to save him. The farm manager was a German named, Bamberger [Bodenburg ed.]. He treated us with relative decency, as long as he needed workers, and didn't let the Ukrainian police to hurt us. The worst among the Ukrainian policemen was Schab. He was very active in all the aktzyot and the Germans, Pavel [Pal] and Bruner [Brauner], worked with him. It should be noted that many Poles were also murdered by Schab, among them was a priest named Skadzinski [Szkodziński].
[Page 177 - Hebrew]
by Rachel Landmann
Translated by Sara Mages
When the Germans entered Tłuste I was in Lvov [Lwów] together with my husband, my daughter and my nephew. We stayed in Lvov for nine weeks and suffered a lot there. We were strangers in this city and hunger bothered us. We also didn't take clothes and underwear with us and we were dirty. The Germans and the Ukrainians grabbed people in the streets, beat them and abused them. Once, they caught four thousand Jews, lay them on the ground and rode on their backs with bicycles. My nephew was taken to Janowska camp and came back three days later all wounded. He told us that he was saved from death thanks only to the fact that he was fluent in the Ukrainian language. At the end of nine weeks we decided to return home, to Tłuste. The journey lasted two weeks because we walked only at night for fear of danger.
A new disaster descended on us in Tłuste: our house was bombed and destroyed during the arrival of the Germans and we remained homeless. Troubles started a short time later - the murders and the aktzyot. In the first aktzya they asked only to transfer the elderly and the maimed, but about eighty young women who worked at the Kozia-Gora farm during the harvest season were taken together with them. And now, the second aktzya was held. We prepared a bunker in the cellar, but at the last minute I changed my mind and convinced my husband to go and hide with a Polish farmer, Mazor, who knew us. The farmer chased us from his house at two in the morning. We had to flee to the field and there we hid in the potato bushes. We lay there for two days despite the fact that the aktzya lasted only one day. We didn't know that the danger was over and it was possible to go back home. We found our apartment empty. Everything was looted from it. The suffering was terrible. We didn't have water, not in the house and not in the yard. We had to draw water from the well in the town center, but Jews weren't allowed to draw water from that well since it was in the Arian section of the town. Therefore, we were forced to steal water. Those, who were caught stealing water, were badly beaten or murdered. Furs and all items of value were taken from us, and those who were caught hiding them didn't come alive from the hands of the murderers.
Meanwhile, it became known to us that a third aktzya was going to take place. My sister, her husband and her two daughters lived with us at that time. We went to the street to see if it was possible to cross. Suddenly, we came across two Ukrainian policemen, Schab and Dobianko [Dubiczenko], who walked accompanied by two huge dogs. Schab wanted to stop us, but Dobianko told him to let us go because very soon all the Jews would be caught together and there was no need to take care of individuals They were only satisfied that they set their huge dogs on us. The dog tore my sister's coat and bit her until she bled. We fled to the fields. We hid in the field and in the forest for two days in pouring rain, and when we returned two days later we didn't resemble a human being. We found out that it was quiet in the city and the aktzya was held on the night that we returned home. As planned, we had to go down to the hideout in the cellar, but we hid in the attic. On that night thirty people were taken out of the cellar but our hiding place was not discovered. My brother-in-law didn't have the time to reach us and fell victim during the aktzya.'
Jews were being abused not only during the aktzya, but also during quiet times. Once, a young woman from Buczacz left to get a little milk from one of the farmers and Schab shot and killed her for this horrible crime. On the same day, a young woman from Horodenka left to buy potatoes and she was also shot by Schab. When he came to a Jewish home, Schab introduced himself: I am Schab, the Jews' murderer.
The last aktzya arrived - the liquidation aktzya. This time we also managed to hide in the field. The Jews who remained alive after the last aktzya were sent to labor camps. However, they took young people who were fit to work. They didn't want to accept me because of my age (I was close to the age of fifty). For two weeks we, me, my husband and my daughter, wandered lost in the forests. Later, we entered the camp and each time the manager was due to arrive we fled again to the field. A typhus epidemic broke out in the camp. My husband also became ill and then the Ukrainian police came and shot him to death. This was also my sister's fate. When someone didn't show up to work, the Ukrainian police came on the following day and killed him. The police found part of a radio in Yisrael Hirschbein's possession and for this crime Schab arrested him and his daughter. The members of the Judenrat asked Schab to hand the two prisoners to the Germans, but Schab answered that he himself would decide their judgment. He took them to the cemetery. On the way he tortured the young woman and then he killed both of them. The young woman was critically wounded and suffered for a whole day until she died.
During the last period of the German regime I was with my little daughter at the camp in Lisowice [Lisowce]. Vlasov's men came to our area at that time and helped the Ukrainians and the Germans to eliminate the Jews. One of them caught me and my daughter. I managed to escape from his hands and take my daughter. Next, he attacked a beautiful young woman and severely injured her neck. The woman suffered from terrible pain for a whole day until she died.
I escaped from the camp in Lisowice to the farm in Tłuste. Also there we suffered a lot from the hands of the Ukrainians and from Vlasov's men. Finally, the Soviet army arrived and liberated us from the Germans. There was no end to our happiness. Half an hour after the arrival of the Soviets a group of German bombers arrived and bombed the farm. The bombing was very heavy and all the buildings caught on fire. I was sure that this time I wouldn't be able to save myself and my daughter. By miracle I arrived to a home of a Pole and hid in his cellar. My daughter was only slightly wounded. A week later, the Germans returned and again we had to escape with the Soviet army. We arrived half naked and barefoot to Podvolitchisk [Podwołoczyska] and stopped there. At that time we only lived from the Soviets' handouts, and for a long time we lived in poverty and suffered hunger and cold.
[Page 178 - Hebrew]
by Moshe Spiegel
Translated by Sara Mages
After the great aktzya in Tłuste on 28 May 1943 [27 May 1943 ed.], in which around three thousand five hundred Jews were murdered, I moved with my family to the camp in Holovtshintzh [Hołowcyńce]. At that time, every Jew from Tłuste and the nearby towns, tried to find a place in one of the camps. Around three thousand surviving Jews, who hid during the aktzya in different locations in the town and the vicinity, were forced to move and crowd together in one street. I did not want to remain in a ghetto, and therefore I was one of the first to reach Holovtshintzh together with my family that included: my father Henrik Spiegel, my son, my sister and her daughter, and also my brother's two young sons. There were three big huts in the camp that were designed to accommodate 600 people, but 1100 people who arrived in the camp crowded in them, among them were children, women and the elderly.
The camp manager was an evilhearted Pole, who did not neglect an opportunity to abuse the Jews and extort money from the wealthy. There was a group of rich Jews in the camp who were not forced to go to work and were allowed to cook their own meals. The farmers' wives sold them food from their farms, and the camp management turned an eye on that.
On Sunday, 6 June, while we worked in the sugarbeet field, we suddenly saw four cars full of German soldiers traveling on the road leading to Tłuste. A quarter of an hour later we started to hear the sound of gun fire coming from the town. A great panic was aroused among the workers, and we started to run towards the nearest forest in order to hide there. On the way we met a number of Jews who had also escaped from the town to the forest. The Germans shot after the escapees and many of them were hit and fell. The aktzya lasted from 11 in the morning to 6 in the evening, and around one thousand eight hundred people were killed.
A few days later a few hundred people moved back to town. According to a Gestapo order they were sent to Chortkov [Czortków], but they were killed by their escorts before they arrived there. We found out about this matter from the few Jews who were able to escape and also from the carters who transported the Jews to Chortkov.
We lived in Holovtshintzh camp in constant tension and fear, and we did not know what the next day would bring. In the middle of July 1943, I worked in the field together with 200 camp workers. A Polish farmer, who brought grain to the flour mill, passed by and when he saw us he turned and said: why are you standing and working here? There is an aktzya in Swidowa. At the sound of his words the workers scattered and started to run to the forest. Meanwhile the Ukrainian residents raided the deserted camp and looted what was left of our belongings. Also, the Jews in the other camps started to flee to the forest when they heard about the aktzya in Swidowa. There was always a direct contact between the camps, and messages and warnings were transferred from camp to camp by Polish runners who were hired and paid for that purpose.
We wandered in the forest on that day and on the following day, and later on we returned to the camp. They were also those who remained in the forest for a full week. We found out that all the Jews were liquidated in Swidowa. One of them was able to escape completely naked from a burial pit. One of the farmers gave him something to wear and he arrived in our camp and stayed with us. The panic and the fear from the aktzya became stronger in the camp. We walked hopelessly and we did not have the patience to continue with our work.
On 14 July we found out by chance, that the Germans and the Ukrainian militia suddenly attacked the camp in Tshrshnovtza [Szerszeniowce] and murdered close to two hundred Jews. We begged before the two nonJewish workers, the storekeeper and the bookkeeper, to travel to Tshrshnovtza and bring us clear information of what happened there. The storekeeper traveled there and when he returned he told us that the information was correct. Again, panic spread in the camp. We placed guards around the camp and went to sleep. At night a Ukrainian friend came to warn me that the Germans had arrived in the village. They were sitting in the local council house and getting drunk. I awoke the camp residents and informed them about the situation. There were those who believed me, but those who were always the first to run did not pay attention to my warnings and went back to sleep. I took my father and my son and ran out of the camp. I also informed my sister and the rest of my family members. It was around 3.30 before morning. We moved around four hundred meters away from the camp, hid in the standing wheat, and waited for things to come. A short time later we heard the sound of gunfire so we got up and started to run. The camp was completely surrounded. Only one place was open and a few people managed to escape from there, but they were attacked by the local farmers who beat them and robbed their money.
We sat in our hiding place, together with eleven other people, all day until the late hour of the evening. I lost my father on the way and he disappeared. I was not able to sit calmly in my place because I was worried about my family members. I returned with my son to the village, met a peasant woman and asked her if she knew something about their fate. From her I heard the bitter news that over two hundred people had been murdered including my father and my sister's two sons. The three of them were hiding in a field among the stalks, but a Ukrainian discovered their hiding place and notified the murderers. By chance it was a gentile who at one time worked for the brother of my brotherinlaw, Hillel [Hillary] Kenigsberg. My sister escaped to the village and there the Ukrainians felt sorry for her and saved her. My sister's daughter, Leila, a young beautiful woman, removed the armband from her sleeve and left the camp. A Ukrainian policeman came towards her and ordered her to join a group of people who stood waiting for their execution. She refused to go and told him: if you want you can kill me right here, but I am not going there. The policeman aimed his gun at her. She closed her eyes and waited for the shot. A few seconds passed and the shot did not arrive. Leila opened her eyes and saw that the policeman was smiling at her saying: I feel sorry for you, hurry and hide. She was frozen and was not able to move from her place. The policeman pushed her lightly to a nearby corn field, and from there she escaped to the same gentile who had warned me of the danger on the same night.
On the day after the aktzya we did not know where to turn, and we wandered lost in the fields and in the forests. We tried to return to the farm, but we found out that the evil hearted farm manager Yaramitsh was full of anger at the Jews, and did not want them to stay on his farm.
I turned to the storekeeper, Yanek Zavarskei, and he gave me a little bread and fat. I took my son to the nearest cemetery and climbed to the mortuary's attic. I thought that nobody was there, but the place was full of Jews and we were not able to find a place to sleep. We sat there until morning. Around six o'clock I saw a gentile traveling in a cart delivering milk to Tłuste. Without thinking much I climbed on the cart with my son and traveled to the camp in Tłuste. My oldest sister Eva was there with our sister Manya [Maria] Kenigsberg. I consulted with Manya what to do, and she told me that she could not give me any advice. According to a rumor, they were also planning to liquidate the farm in Tłuste. We were totally desperate. Suddenly my brotherinlaw came and brought the news that an order had arrived from Himmler to leave six thousand Jews alive to work in the agricultural farms. Patti [Vathje] brought this message and added: to our great sorrow the order arrived too late!
After we received the news about Himmler's order, Patti instructed my brotherinlaw Kenigsberg to collect all the Jews who were scattered all over, and to reestablish the labor camps. I hurried to the camp in Holovtshintzh. Patti arrived after me and ordered Yaramitsh to bring the Jews back to the huts and to reestablish the camp. Again, two hundred Jews gathered there (two hundred were killed and two hundred were hiding in different locations). Among the two hundred, there were twenty young children, orphaned from their fathers and mothers. There weren't any rich Jews among the survivors. Most of them had been killed because they had relied on their immunity status and did not escape. Yaramitsh was not happy with us since he was no longer able to extort money from us. The Ukrainian police came to the camp every day, and we were forced to collect money in order to bribe them and prevent further tragedy. It was clear to them that we were not able to give them the large sums of money that they were used to receiving. Diseases spread among the camp's residents because of the shortage and the hunger. My son also got sick. I knew that he was sick with typhus, but I told everyone that he was sick with rheumatic fever. The storekeeper Zavarskei helped me a lot. Each time the Ukrainian police arrived he tried to keep them away and appease them. Eventually my son recovered without any medicine.
After the reestablishment of the camp we worked in peace and without interference for five weeks. After that an epidemic broke out in the camp, and again our lives were in danger because of the illness and also because of the Ukrainian police visits. Yaramitsh raged with anger and demanded workers, but most of his workers were sick. The Ukrainian police came together with the German oppressor, Brauner. Yaramitsh met them and complained that the Jews did not want to go out to work. The first result was one Jew among the sick was murdered. He was a Jew from Zaleszczyki. When he saw the policemen he tried to escape to the nearby river. The murderers' bullets reached him by the river bank. Four Jewish men from the camp brought his body back for burial.
[Page 179 - Hebrew]
by Runia Bermann
Translated by Sara Mages
The first aktzya, in our town, Horodenka, was held in December 1941, and about two thousand five hundred residents perished in it. Several people who weren't shot to death managed to get out of the pit of death in the darkness of the night and returned to town. Among the survivors were also the slaughterer's wife and one of my relatives.
The second aktzya was held on Rosh Hashanah 1942 (in the month of September). The vast majority of Jews from the town and from the neighboring towns were gathered under the guise of registration to work and detained for several days in the farm buildings near the train station. Later, they were transferred to the death camp at Belzec. My father was also among them. A short time after that our town was declared free of Jews (Judenrein). A few Jews managed to cross the border to Romania. Some of the surviving Jews moved to Kołomyja and some to Tłuste across the Dniester River. Our family also escaped to Tłuste.
On 27 May 1943, the great aktzya, in which three thousand five hundred Jews were murdered, was held in Tłuste. Among them were also my mother and my sister. I was wounded in my shoulder and remained alone and lonely. Another aktzya was held ten days later and about one thousand Jews perished in it.
A month after the great aktzya, on 27 June 1943, a labor camp which absorbed the surviving Jews from the town and the neighboring towns was established in Tłuste. There were only two young people under the age of seventeen there: myself and a tenyearold girl. The Jewish militia wanted to remove me from the camp, but I adapted slowly to the work and remained there. In this way we spent the summer in the camp and a harsh winter arrived. We suffered a lot from the cold and the filth, from hunger and shortage. There were about six hundred Jews in the camp. The Nazis and the Ukrainian rioters didn't come to the camp and aktzyot weren't held there. In March 1943 [ed. 1944], the Soviet army liberated us from the Germans. My ambition is to arrive, as fast as possible, to our country to join the work force that builds our homeland so that we could strengthen it and avenge the blood of our parents, brothers and sisters.
[Page 180 Hebrew]
by Shimshon Meltzer
Translated by Sara Mages
Each and every morning I hear the sound of a shofar coming from Ohel Meir,
and I know that Elul arrived and the heart is excited and pounding,
and Elulofchildhood awaken in my soul and awaken a vanished world
and my eyes are closed and my face is silent and the brain hallucinating and dreaming.
And it came, the dream, with a lot of color and sound, a lot of details and matters,
And a kind of childhood idea rises in my heart, a kind of idea from the world of fabrication
And in a whisper, audible only to them, the cantor whispers,
And a thought comes to my mind, that the minyan shouldn't only be at night,
But it is difficult to determine the proper location for that minyan:
And I am rebuilding the temple, restoring its thick walls
And the ceiling rises on the walls…I most certainly remember it!
The ceiling was built at the time in Chortkov and they worked diligently in the Kloiz's yard to decorate it,
And they made scaffolding there, one on top of the other, a kind of suspension bridge in the roof,
And the same builders also hung the ceiling in the town of Tluste,
How do I specify, how can I describe and tell about them all? like
In the east the beautiful Ark, decorated in a combination of sawn wood
And pigeons float up there, above the raised Ark
In the west the doors are wide open, the heavy oak doors,
And we will install stairs in the main entrance, because young and old would come,
The dead must have a shortened prayer, without a tasteless saying.
And perhaps now they have also changed the wording as a sort of renewed order of prayer,
a kind of shortened order of the regular prayers with the addition of a question mark,
an exclamation mark and wonder and demand, for example: Yitgadal Veyitkadash?!
Chaim Schwarzbart will rise first from his grave and go to arouse the ghosts…
He would take the bigbig lantern, light the candle in it and go,
He will not knock with a hammer, and will not knock with a stick … with sweetsweet singing,
Please wake up, because every night your soul rises up
Yet, in his honest way he also wouldn't forget those scattered around,
The clear reasonable sayings of King Solomon didn't attract my heart,
HaRav Pinchas Lapiner, preacher in the holy community of Tluste, who taught me the Gemara in a hurry
In life they were far in nature, even though both taught me
He will go to bring our rabbi, HaRav ShmuelAba Chodorov, from afar,
But our rabbi would probably amass from his ashes and form a little flesh and tendons,
And our teacher and rabbi sat and studied, studied like a boy in the Cheder
The tender soul distanced himself from controversy, from every authority in town,
And I regret that we were jokers, mimicking the ridiculous speech
He highly respected his righteous mother, the tall and dignified.
Surely her son would miss her, this is her closest son,
BaruchIzik Vitashka, is the community leader in our town for dozens of years
From a large wealthy family, highborn, scholar and a maskil in secret.
And here, that morning, when they thought Esther was lost
when she had difficulties giving birth to Donya this is the third day and more!
Shimshon Klein walked in the apartment and searched, and checked every suspicious corner,
and finally he finds the hidden dresser and the books of that trouble maker!
And immediately he opens a window on a cold winter day to the big yard,
And indeed, she was beautiful, and it is possible that for the sake of the goodlooking earthly daughter
Meir Klein, his property partner and brotherinlaw, is the most important in town.
He was there during that war, bailed together with Vitashka,
And both in the east of the Kloiz, in the south wing, in the north wing…
And in particular they resented his habit to come late on weekdays, a considerable delay,
He was a member of Agudat Yisrael, and read a Polish newspaper,
And Saklovska, Lituvtza, are masters, think, and we are landlords?
Only the bread… in the end he also did not have a loaf of bread,
Yankel Shpitzer was always in a hurry to prayer, came early and entered.
He received from HershKopel himself! not a scholar, but knows the meaning of the words.
Therefore, really, they gossiped behind his back, and whispered with laughter…
I still see him standing wrapped in a Tallit, in the Musaf of an ordinary Sabbath,
And so he will also be BaalMusaf now, for the dead, in the whispered prayer,
Antshel Pfeffer, the Shulfter would not object… he would agree to the matter, of course!
Was the eldest brother, the cattle traders, and they were honored with his honor.
How great when he stood on the Sabbath and holiday to the cantor's left,
And strange, but now it seems me that only he, he alone is the man who was
suitable and worthy for the honorary post of firstGabbai in the Shul…
Antshel Pfeffer he too became a legend to me,
he would never thunder his voice, and he would never frighten with be quite!…
Leizer Walzer, is BaalHaMusaf of the Devishnitz Kleizel, will tackle Shacharit.
His stature is low, wrapped in an adorned prayer shawl.
He lived in Swidowa and merged the study of the Torah with his tavern,
And they threw all of them to the horses' graves… at the beginning, in the first days!
With all that, he will know the time… there wouldn't be any objections on his side!
Moshe Willner, is known the Mincha is his, on weekday, on holiday and the Sabbath,
He had one more right of claim: the auction at Simchat Torah.
What a thrill he provoked in this negotiation, very tense!
Adorned with lineage, son of a rabbi and soninlaw of one of the geniuses in Poland,
And even at the time when he was led to the Sammelplatz, to the thousands
Yankel Scherl will be the shofar blower; he blew in the Shul in the last years.
I still remember how he stood and read in the women's section in the Chortkover Kloiz
Known as Doctor Herzl… slowly, and with a lot of importance, he explained the matters,
He was attached to his small shop and was satisfied with the spiritual center and Hebrew.
A beautiful soul who supported himself all of his life, and was not involved with the community.
HaRav Shemshili Heller, from a lineage of holy angels, geniuses, righteous,
He himself could have done righteousness, but became a small grocer…
He loved to bring amazing interpretations that spoke of redemption,
and clearly articulated the name of our country, didn't swallow, as is customary.
On Isru Chag, the day after Simchat Torah, he left in a full train
from the second aktzya, and maybe they hastened his end and he arrived suffocated…
Each morning and morning I hear the sound of the shofar coming from Ohel Meir
And I combine the minyan in my town, in my dead faraway town,
Who will approach the lectern each day for Shacharit, Musaf and Mincha.
I calculate the number of people, the number of those who would come to the prayer:
And the second aktzya, around nine hundred the day after Simchat Torah 5703,
And in the third aktzya, 24 Adar in the year 5703 to the creation,
In the cemetery they found a dug up grave waiting for them,
And they undressed them and kicked them to that bridge in a line,
And in the fourth aktzya, on 3 Nisan in the same year, the
Added to them are victims of the camps, Rozanowka, Holowczynza and others.
All will come wrapped in tallitot, even with borrowed tallitot,
So I ponder all day, and at night my soul cannot rest
To distract, I finish and arrange the order of the prayer:
Many, many lighted candles…how can it be possible that they wouldn't drip?
And I know why his boots are so heavy and so wet,
He's walking, this Viktor, this cemetery gentile, the innocent with compassionate heart,
Shortly before sunrise I wake up, my eyes wide open and my face is tearful,
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